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Berkshire Maestros Students get into the National Youth Orchestra
We at Berkshire Maestros would like to say a huge congratulations to all participants for getting into the National Youth Orchestra 2023, but a particularly huge well done to two of our very own students Megan Belshaw and Tara Spencer for getting a place. The National Youth Orchestra is a team like no other. The teenage musicians come from all over the UK, and from very different backgrounds – but they’re bound together by their love for orchestral music, and their desire to open up orchestral music to other young musicians, regardless of their background or access to music education.
We spoke to Megan and Tara on their musical journeys, Berkshire Maestros experience and how they feel on being a part of The National Youth Orchestra 2023 and here’s what they had to say:
Our CEO, Dawn Wren said “I am extremely proud of both students for their hard work and dedication, it has been wonderful to see their progression over the years and to have inspired their love of ensemble playing. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them as no doubt music will continue to play a huge part in their lives!”
Megan Belshaw said “I have always loved music. My first instrument was violin, which I started at age six, but when I was eight, my bassoon teacher (Cath Millar) came to school and introduced the bassoon to us. I had a few lessons, and I knew it was what I wanted to play. I started playing bassoon in a beginner ensemble at Newbury Music Centre and worked my way up to Newbury Senior Wind band when I was 12. I still play with this band as well as being part of Berkshire Youth Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Youth Bassoon Ensemble and the Reading Double Reed ensemble.
I’ve met so many lifelong friends through playing at Berkshire Maestros and the various groups I belong to have really helped my playing and confidence.
I played in the National Children’s Orchestra for four years and now with the help that I’ve been given by my teacher, who has always encouraged me to work hard and believe in myself, I’m really excited to be part of the National Youth Orchestra in 2023 to play with musicians of such a high standard and to inspire other young musicians.”
Tara Spencer said “I started playing the piano aged 5 and the violin a year later. I was awarded a place in the National Children’s Orchestra (NCO) aged 11 and played with NCO for three years! Also successfully auditioned for the primary part of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2017 and spent the next 5 years there studying the violin with Rafael Todes. I have played in Berkshire Maestros ensembles since 10 years of age and joined the Reading String Orchestra in 2016 and Camerata and Berkshire Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO) the following year which I currently lead.
I first became involved with the National Youth Orchestra’s (NYO’s) Inspire programme in 2021, through their online activities, and was invited to join NYO for their summer residency and concert at Leeds Town Hall. In January 2022 I played again with the orchestra during their winter residency, performing at the Warwick Arts Centre and then attended two further NYO Inspire residencies over Easter and in the summer holidays before auditioning for NYO in September. I am delighted to be joining the first violin section of the orchestra for 2023 and particularly looking forward to playing at the BBC proms next August.
I am currently in my first year at Farnborough Sixth Form College and currently learn the violin with Tereza Privratska. I continue to play the piano and hope to complete diplomas on both instruments in the next few months. Outside of music I am a keen baker and adore my two cats!”
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